In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we are re-posting an article from Fulbright English Teaching Assistant to Macedonia Abigail Jones, who through the Dreams and Friendship Exchange promoted interethnic and intercultural understanding between students in Macedonia and the United States. We hope that the Fulbright community is inspired by Abigail Jones’ – and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s – work in fostering positive change in their host and home communities.
I arrived in Resen, Macedonia in a cab I paid too much for. I stood on the side of the road and called my host teacher from my new cell phone. I had only spoken to Maja twice, but I recognized the smile in her voice through the windshield of her red Volkswagon. My two under-twenty-five-kilo suitcases filled the backseat. I reached for a seatbelt that wasn’t there. Maja’s mother, Sonja, met us in their front yard and gave me the kind of hug I remember when I am asked to summarize my year in Macedonia.
My official Fulbright assignment was to assist in high school English classes. In the fall, I taught with Maja at the high school in Resen. My assignment moved to a music high school in Bitola for the spring. Throughout the year, I also spent two or three days a week at a junior high school in a village outside of Bitola, helping facilitate the pilot of an embassy-sponsored project called the Dreams and Friendship Exchange—a virtual exchange program that promotes English language learning and interethnic, intercultural understanding through partnering students in Macedonia and America.